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French St. Martin / Saint Martin / hot peppers / piments

Fiery scotch bonnet peppers add spice to Créole dishes in French St. Martin

ST. MARTIN / ST. MAARTEN / Dining / Local Cuisine

Dining in French St. Martin

The most popular types of cuisine in St. Martin are traditional French and spicy West Indian Créole. Many of the restaurants, which range from inexpensive to trés cher, combine the best of both. Fresh seafood appears on virtually all menus, sometimes prepared in Créole style with spices, sometimes in the classic French manner with herbs. Local rum drinks often precede a meal and fine French wines provide the perfect accompaniment.

Because more and more visitors to St. Martin are choosing to stay in private villas, a growing number of traiteurs (caterers) have begun to offer their services to those who wish to enjoy fine dining at home without preparing it themselves.

Please click
here for a directory of French side restaurants and caterers.

Dining in Dutch St. Maarten

International dining opportunities abound and fresh seafood appears on virtually all menus. Prices range from inexpensive to extremely high. In between, there are a large number of moderately-priced restaurants, many featuring American-style food. Island rum drinks, or the locally produced specialty, Guavaberry liquor, often accompany a meal.

Please click
here for a directory of Dutch side restaurants.

Things to Remember

Most restaurants that are open for lunch and dinner on the Dutch side serve throughout the afternoon and evening. On the French side lunch (le déjeuner) is often the main meal of the day and usually served from 12:00 noon to 14:00 and restaurants generally open for dinner (le diner) between 19:00 and 20:00. Although not necessary at lunch, it's usually a good idea to call ahead for dinner reservations anywhere on the island.

The pace of service in many Caribbean restaurants may surprise first-time visitors. It is wise to remember that standards are different in the West Indies. If you demand fast food and brisk service, perhaps the Caribbean is not for you. However, if you can downshift and relax into a tropical mode, your patience will be richly rewarded. Experienced travelers always arrive at restaurants before they are really hungry and allow extra time for their meals to be prepared and served. A 10 -15% service fee is often included in restaurant bills (look for the Service Compris notation on the French side), so small additional tips are optional for particularly good service.

Please click
here for a directory of French side restaurants and caterers.

Please click
here for a directory of Dutch side restaurants and caterers.

Créole Cooking Terms

Créole cuisine is a delicious mélange of French, African and Indian influences. Exotic seasonings ignite fresh seafood and poultry in prized recipes handed down from generation to generation. If you overindulge and burn your mouth on the hot seasonings, bread (pain) and butter (buerre) will help put out the fire. Local fruits, vegetables and beverages add to the wonderful flavors. Here are some basic terms. Bon appétit!

ACCRAS: fritters, an appetizer
ANANAS: pineapple
BALAOU: small local fish
BELANGERE: eggplant
BLAFF: seafood cooked in seasoned soup
BOUDIN: spicy blood sausage
CABRI: goat
CARAMBOLE: star-shaped fruit
CALALOU/CALLALOO: herb porridge
CHADRON: sea urchin
CHATROU: small octopus
CHIQUETAILLE: shredded, spicy codfish
CHRISTOPHINE: potato-like vegetable
COLUMBO: prepared with curry
COURT-BOUILLON: steamed fish specialty
CRABE FARCI: spicy stuffed crab
CREVETTE: shrimp
CRUDITE: mixed vegetable salad
DASHENE/DACHINE: a nutritional root
ECREVISSE: freshwater crayfish
FEROCE: fiery avocado w/chiquetaille
GAMBAS: prawns
GIRAUMON: local pumpkin or squash
LAMBI: conch
LANGOUSTE: lobster
MALANGA: another nutritional root
MARACUDJA: passion fruit
MORUE: codfish
MOULES: mussels
OUASSOUS: freshwater crayfish
OURSIN: sea urchin
PIMENTS: super hot scotch bonnet peppers
PLANTEUR: rum with tropical juices
POULET: chicken
SAUCE CHIEN: spicy sauce for fish
TI-PUNCH: potent rum w/cane syrup, lime
VIVANEAU: snapper
Z'HABITANTS: crayfish in Martinique

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